We asked Emily to share their love story since here on A Military Story it's not just about pretty photos, it's the story behind them. So get some coffee, have a seat, and onto their story.............
"Michael and I met at the beginning of a fresh new year in January 2014. Each of us had taken jobs at the Target in New Ulm, Minnesota, following our graduations from college. I remember reporting for work on an ordinary day, walking out to the guest service area and immediately noticing that there was a new guy donning red and khaki. Needless to say there was an instant spark. I took a liking to his chocolatey brown eyes, the friendliness of his easy-going smile, and the kindness of his handsome face. If you asked Michael what he was thinking, well, he’d probably tell you that he couldn’t stop staring!
In those next few weeks I would go back to the electronics department to visit Michael on my breaks, and he would always need to come see me at guest service for a new walkie-talkie battery. Finally, one day on my break, I told Michael how hungry I was, and even though he had just eaten a big meal, he said he was hungry too and asked if I wanted to go to Applebee’s after work. We spent about an hour getting to know each other, and Michael officially asked me to a dinner and a movie date for the following week. Later he told me that he left Applebee’s that night knowing that he was going to marry me! We hit it off on our first date and we spent as much time as we could together. His parents invited me over to watch the Super Bowl at their house on February 2, 2014, when the Denver Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks, and Michael asked me to be his girlfriend that night!
Michael was upfront with me early on about his desire to join the United States military. While many people might shy away from that, it made me feel even more patriotic than I already was and gave me even more respect for this man I loved so much. In April 2014, Michael officially signed up to serve our country as a member of the Army. After a summer, that went by too quickly, he left for basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on September 2, 2014.
We exchanged letters weekly. While it was hard to communicate only by pen and paper for several weeks, there was certainly a romantic, old-fashioned element about it that I treasured deeply. I would obsessively check the mailbox every day and my heart would leap upon finding a letter addressed from my soldier. About 5 weeks into his training, Michael was finally able to call home at the mercy of his drill sergeants and we were able to talk for about 15 minutes. Who knew such a short phone conversation could be so valuable and bring so much joy?
I began a chocolate kiss countdown, one kiss every day until I got the real thing. Something so simple helped to pass the time and gave me a little thing to look forward to each day. Finally, on November 11, 2014, I ate my last chocolate kiss and arrived in Lawton-Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I had so many butterflies in stomach on the eve of our reunion that I felt like we were going on our first date all over again! I awoke early in the morning of and spent extra time curling my hair, then dressed in the outfit I’d had all planned out for weeks. Michael’s parents and I arrived at the auditorium for the Family Day program where Michael would be modeling the Class A Army Service Uniform, also known as the dress blues. I couldn’t stop smiling when I finally caught sight of him, looking so handsome!
After the program, I was finally wrapped up in Michael’s arms again. Following weeks of being drilled intensively and taught how to be a soldier, Michael seemed a little nervous and unsure of how to be a civilian again. I did my best to act natural and help him be comfortable as we departed for lunch, oblivious to the real reason why Michael was actually feeling so anxious. After treating Michael to a good ol’ burger, we went to a riverwalk and shopping area called Medicine Park, which was mostly deserted because of the cold. Everyone else went to the bathroom, or so I thought, while I went into a jewelry store. Little did I know that Michael’s step-dad was actually giving him a pep talk and handing over my imminent prize that his parents had held onto for safe-keeping. Michael had decided that this was the right time and the right place.
He and I walked on our own hand-in-hand down by the river and came upon a picturesque white bridge that led over to another rock platform in the middle of the water. As we crossed the bridge, there was a pink heart carved into the stone. Michael asked out of the blue if I wanted to see his dog tags and so I took a peek, finding it exciting that here was further proof that my guy was an official hero. Then he said he got me my own pair of dog tags, handing them over to me. I glanced at the tag he had put in my hand and it just said my name on it, “Emily A........” Then I noticed that there was another tag and it read, “Will you marry me?” It took a few seconds for reality to set in. I turned to find Michael already on his knee holding out a beautiful diamond ring, and he repeated the words out loud to me. I began crying happy tears and said yes. He had a great big smile on his face and asked after a beat, “What do I do now?” I told him to put the ring on my finger, of course! It was a moment I will never forget.
Since that perfect day, Michael and I have seen each other on four other occasions. During his time in the Army so far, he has been to Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee, undergoing various lengthy and intensive training. In the meantime I have stayed home with my family in Minnesota working and planning for our wedding on . I got my first real taste of military life back when our wedding was originally set to take place on and Michael was told that he wouldn’t be able to take leave during that time. In a panic, I immediately contacted all my vendors to whom I had already given deposits and was so fortunate to find a new date that still worked for everyone!
I am so incredibly proud of the way in which we have sustained a very healthy long-distance relationship for nearly two years. It has taken true commitment, constant communication, and a whole lot of patience, but we made it! Nowadays I look forward to every when I get to Skype with my best friend because he is currently deployed overseas honorably serving our country. I am counting down the days until Michael will return in June when we no longer have to say goodbye—at least until the next deployment. I will be moving upon his homecoming to finally be with the man I soon will marry, and I will also finally be able to pursue my own dreams of becoming a nurse. I am so ready for our next greatest adventure: life together."
Thank you Eric for sharing their beautiful photos, thank you Emily for letting us swoon over your love story, and THANK YOU Micheal for serving our country!